Global Innovation Index 2021: DPMA President sees both light and shadow in Germany

According to a study by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the German innovation system is strong in research and development and in terms of patent applications, but weaker in digital transformation – DPMA President draws mixed conclusions

Press release of 20 September 2021

Munich. The President of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer, has given an ambivalent assessment of Germany’s performance in the Global Innovation Index 2021 of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). "We are pleased that Germany is at the top in terms of patent applications worldwide. This illustrates that German enterprises are still highly innovative," said the DPMA President. "The data also show that the international IP system is highly attractive for German companies." The high filing activity is obviously directly related to the research and development efforts of large companies, which are also outstanding at the international level according to the study. "High investments in novel products and processes are paying off – especially if they are protected as intellectual property," said Rudloff-Schäffer. In the categories "Human capital and research" and "Knowledge and technology outputs", in which other indicators also play a role, Germany was able to move up to 3rd and 9th place, respectively, in the country ranking (2020: 5th and 10th place).

In contrast, the country's performance was significantly weaker in some areas, especially in the "Infrastructure" category. While Germany is still in the top position in traditional logistics performance and has also slightly improved in the field of access to information and communication technologies, it has fallen far behind in e-participation of the population and public online services offered. Germany ranks 57th in the sub-category "E-participation" (2020: 23) and 59th in "Government’s online service" (2020: 17). Overall, the country slipped to 21st place in the "Infrastructure" category. Last year, it still ranked 12th. "The digital transformation and the awareness of the urgency of driving it forward are not yet as pronounced in our society as in other parts of the world. Our innovation landscape would benefit from a little more dynamism," commented DPMA President Rudloff-Schäffer.

For the Global Innovation Index, WIPO examines the innovative capacity of 132 economies in total on the basis of about 80 indicators. Across all categories, Germany takes 10th place in the country ranking of the Global Innovation Index 2021 – one place down from last year. As in previous years, Switzerland takes first place, ahead of Sweden and the United States. The United Kingdom ranks 4th, ahead of South Korea, which leapt from 10th to 5th place. The following places in the ranking (from 6th place) are taken by the Netherlands, Finland, Singapore and Denmark. China's rise continues. The country ranks 12th now (2020: 14th).

However, according to the study, the German economy is particularly efficient. While the country ranks only 14th in terms of investments (inputs) in the innovation system, it ranks 8th in terms of outputs.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Global Innovation Index finds that governments and companies have stepped up innovation investments during the COVID-19 pandemic and that particularly research and development spending has proved more resilient in the economic downturn than in former crises. Nevertheless, the effects of the current crisis vary greatly across individual economic sectors, according to WIPO.

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office

Inventiveness and creativity need effective protection. The DPMA is the German centre of expertise for all intellectual property rights – patents, utility models, trade marks and designs. As the largest national patent office in Europe and the fifth largest national patent office in the world, our office stands for the future of Germany as a country of inventors in a globalised economy. Its staff of just under 2,800 at three locations – Munich, Jena and Berlin – provide services to inventors and companies. They implement federal innovation strategies and develop the national, European and international IP systems further.

Last updated: 20 September 2021